Prepared! Hurricane Survival Guide for Pinellas County

St. Petersburg College
Center for Public Safety Innovation


Before Hurricane Season My Plan My Kit As the Storm Approaches Before The Storm During The Storm After The Storm Resources

Updated May 2012

My Plan


My Plan

Identify out-of-state contact

Identify an out-of-state contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-state contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Provide everyone's contact info to the out-of-state contact.


Share contact info

Be sure every member of your family knows each other's phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card in order to make calls. You can program a person as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone.

Review insurance

Review your insurance policies (homeowner's, renter's, flood) and review exactly what coverage you have. Confirm that you are covered for any damage caused by a hurricane, including flood damage.


Establish rendezvous points

Establish rendezvous points, both local and out-of-town, for all family members, in case you are separated during and after the storm.


Decide on destination

If you may need to evacuate, it is a good idea to determine likely destinations ahead of time. It is best to go only as far as you need to go to reach a safe area. Keep a list of hotel phone numbers for quick reference.


Find a shelter

Public shelters should be shelters of last resort. While they are safe places to be in a storm, space and comforts are limited. Pack your essentials, but pack light because it is possible you may only have a space that measures 5 feet by 2 feet. Remember, a public shelter is not a cruise ship; it is a life boat with the mission to save lives. Not every shelter will open for every evacuation. Please call the Citizens Information Center at 727-464-3800 or TDD 727-464-3075.

During an emergency call 727-464-4333.

My Kit


Food & Water

Tools & Supplies




Toys, Cards, Games

Whether you are sheltering in place or evacuating, it is important to bring toys, games, and cards to help everyone relax and keep calm. You may need to spend many hours without access to a TV and computer.


Be sure to make copies of important family documents and store them in a portable waterproof container.


If possible, you should put aside a one-week supply of any current medications you are taking. In 2006, the Legislature passed the Emergency Prescription Refill bill (Florida Statute 252.358 and 462.0275). This law requires all insurers and managed-care organizations to suspend refill-too-soon restrictions when a patient seeks a refill in a county:

This law also allows patients outside of these areas to get an emergency 72- hour refill if the pharmacist is unable to readily obtain refill authorization from the doctor. Please talk with your doctor and pharmacist now about how this new law can affect your prescriptions. Make sure you are ready this hurricane season. In addition to having a supply of your medications on hand, keep a list of each one you take, including the name of the doctor who wrote the prescription, the name of the drug, dosage instructions and the name of the pharmacy where you had it filled.

First Aid Kit

Include these items in your first-aid kit:

Bug Repellent

Bug/Mosquito control is necessary when large amounts of rain have accumulated after the storm. Mosquitoes will begin to hatch and can spread diseases.

Garbage Bags

Garbage bags can be used during a hurricane to cover items and afterwards to clean up debris.


Gloves will protect your hands if you need to deal with debris or broken glass.


Keep at least one breathing mask per person handy in case of air contamination.


A toiletry kit should consist of toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, hand sanitizer/wipes, disinfecting wipes, soap, and feminine hygiene products (if necessary).

Portable Toilet

In case you are unable to use your toilet in your home, you should have a portable toilet which can simply be a 5-gallon bucket, heavy trash bags, and chlorine bleach.


Store one gallon of water per person per day, for at least seven days for drinking. You may also want extra for cooking and hygiene. You should replace stored water every six months.


Store at least a seven-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking, and little or no water. Avoid salty foods, as they will make you thirsty. Choose foods your family will eat. Good choices are ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, and nuts.

Pet Supplies

Make sure that you store at least seven days of food, water and medications for your pets.

Hand Tools

A wrench, hammer, pliers, screwdrivers and other tools may be necessary for shutting off appliances.

Can Opener

You will need a non-electric can opener to open canned foods. If it does not have a bottle opener on it, you may need a separate bottle opener.


Flashlights or lanterns will be needed if you lose power during and after the storm.


Make sure you have at least one set of spare batteries for every device that uses them. Be sure to check the expiration date!


If you lose power and have no computer access, a paper map may come in very handy, especially if you must evacuate.


A tarp can be used in the aftermath of a storm to cover any damaged or exposed areas.


A whistle can be used to signal for help.


It is essential to have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. A NOAA weather radio with tone alert is the best choice. Make sure you have extra batteries.

Cell Phone

You should have a cell phone, charger, and, if possible, an extra battery for use before, during, and after the storm.

Out of State Contact


Review Insurance


Rendezvous Points




Your Shelters


ALL Shelters


Shelter Map



Twitter Feeds:

Before Hurricane Season

Making sure you and your loved ones will survive the storm is a year-round task that requires attention to your personal business, your family members, your home and your vehicles. It is not a task that can be done in just 24 hours, so start your planning now!

Complete a disaster plan BEFORE the chaos of an approaching hurricane to be sure you have time to do it right. Do home improvements during the cooler days of the year. Pack your Emergency Survival Kits before June 1st to be sure you have what you need. Organize important papers so you can grab them quickly.

The information in this Web App will assist you in your planning, but how well you do it is up to you. Take the time to prepare ahead, you'll be glad you did.

As the Storm Approaches

The 5-day cone shows the projected path of the hurricane over the next five days. If Pinellas County falls within the 5-day cone, it is time to implement your survival plan. There is a large "zone of uncertainty" at this point, and cones can cover areas that are hundreds of miles wide. Remember, hurricanes are unpredictable.

As the hurricane moves closer, the accuracy of the forecast increases. It is important to make preparations now; it will be much harder to do if a hurricane warning is announced.

About 36 hours ahead of a storm, forecasters will issue a Hurricane Watch for areas within the cone that can expect hurricane conditions. During a Hurricane Watch, you should focus on preparing for a Hurricane Warning, so that you can evacuate or complete all preparation actions within one or two hours after a Hurricane Warning is issued.

A storm will be about 24 hours from impact when a Hurricane Warning is issued. Any evacuation orders will follow shortly. You should be fully prepared and ready to act within one or two hours after a Hurricane Warning is issued.

Before The Storm


5-Day Cone

Confirm evacuation zone.

You have indicated that your evacuation zone is . If the zone listed is incorrect, click on Profile to update your zone.

You have not set your evacuation zone yet. Please click on Profile to update your zone.

Remember! All residents living in mobile homes/manufactured homes must evacuate, even if their homes are located in a non-evacuation area.

Review Plan

Review your My Plan in the Checklist area to make sure all tasks are completed.

Confirm Shelter Registration

If you are registered for a special needs shelter, call now to confirm your registration and the plan for picking you up. Please call the Citizens Information Center at 727-464-3800 or TDD 727-464-3075. During an emergency call 727-464-4333.

Choose Safe Room

If you don't have to evacuate and plan to weather a hurricane at home, set up a safe room for you and your family in case your home is damaged. In a one-story house, the ideal safe room is in the center of your home with few or no windows. In a two-story house, seek out an interior first-floor room such as a bathroom, closet or space under the stairs. In a multiple-story building, go to the first or second floors and take refuge in halls or other interior rooms away from windows. Interior stairwells and areas around elevator shafts are generally the strongest parts of a building.

3-Day Cone

Double-Check Survival Kit

Double-check the contents of your kit. If you are missing something, replace it immediately.

Refill Prescriptions

If possible, stock a one-week supply of prescriptions.

Check Window Materials

Windows can be protected with permanent storm shutters or temporary plywood covers. Permanent storm shutters can usually be closed quickly and easy - and have an advantage over temporary covers. Temporary covers can be an economical alternative and installed fairly quickly if the necessary preparations are made. Plywood covers also can be used to protect sliding glass and French doors.

Make Hotel Reservations

If you will likely evacuate to a hotel, you should make reservations as soon as possible. If you are bringing pets, make sure the hotel accepts pets.

Hurricane Watch Issued

Fill Gas Tank

Gas pumps cannot operate during power outages, so it is a good idea to fill your gas tank now. If you can, have the oil, water and tires checked. Also, you should consider storing emergency items, such as booster cables, a tire repair kit, a spare tire, and a flashlight with extra batteries inside your car.

Get Cash

If the electricity is out, credit cards may not work and ATMs may not be operable.

Secure Papers And Valuables

Make sure to secure all important documents, irreplaceable photographs, videotapes, and family heirlooms.

Fill Containers With Water

Sterilize bathtub, jugs, bottles, utensils, and containers. Freeze drinking water in plastic jugs. Turn the refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Stock up on an emergency water supply.

Shutter Windows

Shutter your windows using plywood, hurricane shutters, or hurricane screens. Here is a video on how to shutter your windows with plywood.

Secure Yard

Bring in anything that could blow around: toys, bicycles, garbage cans, patio furniture, gas grills, etc. Don't trim trees because no one will come pick up the debris at this point, and the storm could turn your trimmings into missiles.

Hurricane Warning Issued

Leave Early If You Can

If you plan to leave regardless of the evacuation level and can leave at this point, do so now.

Stay Tuned To News

Listen for weather updates and information on local TV or radio. The NOAA Weather Radio is a reliable source. Turn to PCC-TV, Your County Connection, to receive the latest official Pinellas-specific information. Don't rely on rumors and speculation.

Move Kit To Safe Room

Move your kit and other supplies to your safe room.

Evacuation Order Issued

Find Out If You Must Evacuate

Evacuation orders are issued by evacuation zone. You have indicated that your evacuation zone is .

Inform Contacts Of Plan

Contact family members or friends to coordinate efforts and exchange plan information.

Secure Windows And Doors

Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors, particularly double inward-opening doors and garage doors, as shown in the video below. Most importantly, stay inside and do not leave your shelter.

Put On Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, long sleeve shirts and sturdy shoes.

Shut Off Utilities

If you are evacuating, you should turn off all utilities at the shut-off point.

If Evacuating, Leave Now

If evacuating to a shelter, try to check the Web site or call the shelter to ensure that they are open. Listen to radio bulletins that may list shelter openings and closings.

Find A Shelter

Public shelters should be a shelter of last resort. While they are safe places to be in a storm, space and comforts are limited. Pack your essentials, but pack light because it is possible you may only have a space that measures 5 feet by 2 feet. Remember, a public shelter is not a cruise ship; it is a life boat with the mission to save lives.

Prepare For Pick-Up

Have your go-bag ready and wait by the door for your ride to the special needs shelter. Make sure all necessary medicines are in the go-bag.

During The Storm


Turn off appliances

If power is lost, turn off appliances.

Remain in safe room

Close all interior doors, and secure and brace the external door. Remain in the safe room as much as possible.

Do not go outside

Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds may pick up again.

If flooding, turn off power

If there is any flooding, you should turn off all utilities at the shut-off point.

Try to relax

Most importantly, stay calm. Try to relax.

Remain inside until All Clear

Remain inside until an official "All Clear" has been issued.

Watch for tornadoes

Hurricanes often spawn tornadoes.

If you home is breached

If your home is breached, take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level of your home. Remember, put as much house as possible between you and the outside.

  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object if you cannot make it to a safe room.
  • Consider leaving your home ONLY if remaining poses an imminent threat to your life.
  • Otherwise, wait until the storm has passed to tend to the damage.

After The Storm


Do no touch fallen wires

Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances. Stay away from puddles with wires in/near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines.

Use phone only in emergency

Phone networks may be overloaded, so try to limit your phone usage to emergency use only, so others can make their emergency calls. It may be easier to send text messages than make voice calls.

Don't use generators indoors

Never operate a generator indoors. It can result in deadly carbon-monoxide poisoning. Operate it outdoors only.

Watch the flooded roads

Stay away from flood waters. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Flood waters may last for days following a hurricane. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way.

Your Profile

Choose your zone

Add to Home Screen

This information is to help determine the amount of water needed and what shelters are best suited for your needs.

Know Your Zone

In order to know when to evacuate for hurricane surge flooding, you must KNOW YOUR ZONE! Below are a few ways to find out what Evac Zone you are in.

Know Your Zone


National Hurricane Center

NHC Twitter Pinellas County EM Twitter FL State Watch Twitter

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Updated May 2012